NY Lawmakers, Governor Face Looming Deadline To Pass Budget

Photo: Matt H. Wade / CC BY 3.0

ALBANY (AP) – New York lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have yet to announce a deal on the state budget even as a deadline to pass a spending plan by Thursday looms.

New York legislative leaders have given little insight about some of the biggest issues: including the fate of a proposal to raise taxes on millionaires.

Cuomo has signaled openness to some sort of tax hike on the wealthy as New York tries to balance its budget. But he’s also expressed concern for weeks about driving out the state’s wealthiest as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

And Cuomo’s budget director Bob Mujica has said that the latest round of federal COVID-19 relief aid — which sends $12 billion to the state — may eliminate the need for Cuomo’s own proposed spending cuts without needing to raise taxes.

But Democrats who want to raise taxes on the state’s highest earners say there’s little evidence that tax hikes will drive them away. And they say that New York needs a new revenue stream as Medicaid enrollment and costs increase, in line with the state’s efforts to boost enrollment over the past decade.

The Senate and Assembly say their own tax hike proposals would raise about $7 billion for areas including education and social services. Democratic legislative leaders are enjoying a new veto-proof super majority, and some lawmakers hope Democrats have increased leverage in negotiations as the governor faces multiple state and federal investigations over sexual harassment and his administration’s handling of nursing home data.

Sen. Liz Krueger said there’s no downside for the state if lawmakers pass a budget a few days after a deadline of having the budget in place before the new fiscal year starts April 1.

Still, Cuomo has touted his efforts to get budgets passed on time in Albany.

Cuomo and lawmakers say this year’s budget could be the key to whether New York recovers from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown. The governor proposed in January to increase state spending by $1.2 billion — 1.2% — to $103.4 billion.

Employment in New York declined by nearly 2 million jobs from February to April 2020, according to state comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Less than half of the jobs lost during that time have been recovered, according to new state Department of Labor data, and employment is still more than 1 million jobs below its pre-pandemic levels.

The leisure and hospitality sector was the most hard-hit: representing 30% of New York’s total employment decline “despite representing only 9.8 percent of total employment,” according to DiNapoli. The industry has recovered nearly 260,000 jobs since May 2020 — fewer than half of jobs that were lost overall.

“Even as overall job growth has resumed in New York, some industries — educational services, government, and financial activities — have continued to lose jobs,” DiNapoli said.


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